November 14, 2008
Fantasy Clicks
By Jay Clemons
Thursday Night Revelations
Thomas Jones (L) and Jerricho Cotchery: Elsa/Getty Images
N.Y. Jets 34, New England 31 OT
  • If you had the foresight to start Brett Favre, Thomas Jones, Jerricho Cotchery and Randy Moss in Jets-Pats on Thursday night ... congrats on getting a nice return off your blue-chip investments. And if you had the incredible foresight to start Dustin Keller, Matt Cassel, Jabar Gaffney and/or Leon Washington ... then Hallejlujah!, the fantasy gods have tapped you for greatness, while asking nothing in return -- outside of buying me a Mega Millions lottery ticket or two for Friday.

    All kidding aside ... where do we even begin with this classic? Sixty-five combined points, nearly 900 total yards, touchdowns for Moss, Jones and Cotchery, 400 passing yards from Cassel (not to mention his 62 rushing yards, a Patriots high) and, of course, 258 passing yards and two TDs from Lord Favre. In other words, it was the perfect night for fantasyland owners ... and the few non-fantasy NFL fans who still condemn us as out-of-touch stat geeks. (deep sigh)

    But how does this night affect the rest of the fantasy sked, Weeks 12 through 16? Well, for starters, Favre (as he proved in Green Bay) should never be benched in anticipation of inclement weather; Cassel suddenly makes for a highly attractive spot starter in Weeks 14 (at Seattle), 15 (at Oakland) and 16 (vs. Arizona); Cotchery (5 catches, 87 yards, 1 TD vs. New England), Washington (two TDs, one off a kick return) and Wes Welker (7 catches, 108 yards) remain dangerous in PPR leagues; Keller (8 catches, 87 yards) could be the Next Big Thing at tight end ... and Jones (119 total yards, 1 TD) and Moss (one of the best TD catches to tie a game with 1 second left that you'll ever see) would make for excellent "Sell High" guys before next week's trading deadlines. Hmmm, it appears the only player who didn't benefit from this Foxboro harvest was Pats running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis (9 rushing yards) ... but I'm sure no one had the guts to start him over a temporarily slumping Ronnie Brown or a woozy-but-hardly-concussed Frank Gore.

  • No Ordinary Joseph

    I covered all the trade-deadline ins and outs in Wednesday's Clicks, save for one whale-of-a-topic: This is your last chance to acquire my personal choice for the most prolific running back of Weeks 11-16: Colts wunderkind Joseph Addai. Don't get me wrong, if you have the means to pull off coups involving Adrian Peterson, Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, Drew Brees, LaDainian Tomlinson, Jay Cutler and Matt Forte ... by all means, go for it! But those studs are essentially untouchables, unlike Addai, who is absolutely, positively ripe for the plucking.

    Think about it: If you've impatiently owned Addai all year long, you've undoubtedly been frustrated with his injury woes, lack of consistent production (only 334 total yards and 4 TDs) and that he's seemingly splitting carries/ touches with Dom Rhodes). But here are three reasons (without once mentioning Peyton Manning, Dallas Clark, Marvin Harrison or Reggie Wayne) to keep rolling the dice with Addai:

    1. Of the Colts' next six opponents (HOU, @ SD, @ CLE, CIN, DET, @ JAX), only the Jaguars can stop Addai from exploding back onto the scene; but lest not forget that Addai tallied 88 total yards and two touchdowns against Jacksonville in Week 3.

    2. Whether your fantasy playoffs start in Weeks 13, 14 or 15, Addai is staring at a cakewalk in the Browns, Bengals and Lions during that span. Cha-ching!

    3. He may have only rushed for 34 yards against the run-stuffing Steelers in Week 10 ... but he also earned four first downs on only 12 carries -- with three coming on the "2nd- or 3rd-and-long" variety. Against lesser-light teams, Addai will convert those intermediate runs into big, big gains in the coming weeks.

    Return Of The Jedis

    Lost in all the hub-bub surrounding Trade Deadline Week is the highly anticipated, but oh-so-tentative matchup between the Saints and Chiefs -- or better yet, Reggie Bush vs. Larry Johnson. If Bush wasn't rushing (no pun intended) to return from his knee injury, or LJ wasn't scrambling to get his life back into order (following a nightclub arrest where he allegedly spat on a woman and threatened a man) ... maybe I'd be a little more enthusiastic, maybe I'd drone on endlessly here about the two stud runners. Instead, I'm left to wonder just how much they'll play and how effective they'll be. For the record, I have LJ as a "lock" for 110 total yards and/or 2 TDs but have Reggie falling short of that goal -- even though the Chiefs' battle-weary run defense is highly suspect. Am I crazy? Here are some Accuscore projections for LJ and Bush:

    Larry Johnson: 111 total yards, 0.9 TDs
    Reggie Bush: 73 total yards, 0.39 TDs
    Final Score: New Orleans 24, Kansas City 23

    Five Highest-Scoring Games -- Week 11

    1. Houston @ Indianapolis
    2. Denver @ Atlanta
    3. St. Louis @ San Francisco
    4. Philadelphia @ Cincinnati
    5. Dallas @ Washington

    Fountain Of Youth

    Fifteen years from now, NFL historians will revere the RB Class of '08 in the same way the QB Class of '83 has been deified. We're talking 10 potential franchise backs -- Chris Johnson, Darren McFadden, Kevin Smith, Matt Forte, Jonathan Stewart, Rashard Mendenhall (out for the season) and Jamaal Charles, to name a few. Here are some Week 11 projections for the '08 class, courtesy of Pigskin Addiction:

    Chris Johnson, Titans: 100 yards, 1 TD
    Jonathan Stewart, Panthers: 60 yards
    Steve Slaton, Texans: 40 total yards
    Jamaal Charles, Chiefs: 35 total yards
    Kevin Smith, Lions: 65 total yards
    Matt Forte, Bears: 150 total yards, 1 TD
    Tim Hightower: Cardinals: 65 yards

    WR Locks for 110 Yards and/or 1 TD -- Week 11

    1. Larry Fitzgerald vs. Seattle
    2. Roddy White vs. Denver
    3. Steve Smith vs. Detroit
    4. Brandon Marshall vs. Atlanta
    5. Reggie Wayne vs. Houston
    6. Greg Jennings vs. Chicago
    7. Dwayne Bowe vs. New Orleans
    8. Kevin Curtis vs. Cincinnati
    9. Andre Johnson vs. Indianapolis
    10. T.J. Houshmandzadeh vs. Philadelphia
    11. Lee Evans vs. Cleveland

    Target Practice, Part Deux

    In every Wednesday Clicks, I faithfully list the Targets -- the number of times per game a receiver or tight end gets thrown to. But, as a reader recently pointed out, I never release Target information with running backs -- which is an unpardonable sin on my part since Reggie Bush and Frank Gore are carrying my teams in one or both of my Point-Per-Reception (PPR) leagues. So, without further ado, here are the Top 20 running backs in Targets (per game) through Week 10:

    1. Reggie Bush, Saints (8.7 Targets)
    2. Frank Gore, 49ers (6.0 Targets)
    3. Brian Westbrook, Eagles (5.3 Targets)
    4. LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers (5.2 Targets)
    5. Matt Forte, Bears (5.0 Targets)
    6. Steven Jackson, Rams (5.0 Targets)
    7. Marion Barber, Cowboys (4.4 Targets)
    8. Kevin Faulk, Patriots (4.3 Targets)
    9. Warrick Dunn, Bucs (4.3 Targets)
    10. Marshawn Lynch, Bills (4.1 Targets)
    11. Jerious Norwood, Falcons (4.0 Targets)
    12. Dominic Rhodes, Colts (4.0 Targets)
    13. Chris Johnson, Titans (3.9 Targets)
    14. Steve Slaton, Texans (3.9 Targets)
    15. Leon Washington, Jets (3.9 Targets)
    16. Earnest Graham, Buccaneers (3.8 Targets)
    17. Brandon Jackson, Packers (3.8 Targets)
    18. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars (3.7 Targets)
    19. Chester Taylor, Vikings (3.7 Targets)
    20. Mewelde Moore, Steelers (3.6 Targets)

    Mail Call
    Tony Gonzalez: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Tim in Grand Blanc, Mich. says: I have Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez. Whom should I start for Week 11?

    Answer: As much as I love Gates' recent surge and his matchup with the Steelers' pass-defending linebackers ... Gonzo has three major advantages in his favor:
    1. Easier matchup (vs. New Orleans)
    2. Better weather (should be 54 and sunny in K.C.)
    3. Gonzo is amongst the NFL leaders in Targets ... and his QB (Tyler Thigpen) is red-hot right now.

    Doug in Dallas says: I have a huge game in Week 11 and need advice on two starting RBs. I have LaDainian Tomlinson, Michael Turner, Chris Johnson and Willie Parker.

    Answer: Doug, I have a rule against starting guys (with leg or knee injuries) in their first week back to action -- so that would eliminate Willie P. from consideration, if I was running your team. Secondly, Turner at home against the Broncos is a given ... which means it'd come down to LT and CJ, both of whom have road games against excellent run defenses. So, the tiebreaker comes down to weather and playing surface ... and I would rather bet the farm on a guy playing in sunny Florida and on a fantasy-friendly turf than on someone playing in cold/dark/damp/dank Pittsburgh and on the NFL's worst field (at least in November and December).

    Dan in Holbrook, N.Y. wonders: I have a crucial game coming up this Sunday, and I have to start the right receivers. Out of the following, which three do you think I should start? Santana Moss, Roy Williams, Matt Jones, Bernard Berrian, Kevin Walter or Kevin Curtis?

    Answer: For starters, let's eliminate Roy from the discussion. Sure, he'll see a decent amount of red-zone opps, but he just doesn't catch any balls between the 20s. Hmmm, I'd go with ... 1) Moss (a notorious Cowboys killer), 2) Walter (21 targets and 3 TDs in his last three games) and 3) Matt Jones (33 targets, 1 TD in his last three games) barely over Curtis (24 targets in his last three games). But Dan, two things: Please be on the lookout for reports of Moss missing the game to injury ... and/or Jones missing the game, should the NFL suspend him for his summertime drug arrest.

    Fernando in Miami says: I'm in a standard fantasy league; my roster is as follows: Tony Romo, Jay Cutler, Chris Johnson, Steve Slaton, Brandon Marshall, Steve Smith, Antonio Bryant, Bernard Berrian, Kellen Winslow, Jason Witten, Tony Scheffler, Tatum Bell and Darren McFadden. Guys in my league are not open to trades (they're unwilling to give up "their" players). Any suggestions for how to improve my team through the waiver wire? Whom to drop/add?

    Answer: Fernando, I love your team, but for the love of god, Tatum Bell should never, ever be on ANYONE's fantasy squad (by the way: I'd rather have Shaun Alexander, who may get extensive reps this week with Portis and Ladell Betts potentially on the fritz). As far as trade bait, Slaton may be an excellent candidate to deal away, if you're pining for WR help; and I would dangle both Romo and Cutler on your league message board this week -- as principals of a blockbuster trade (you can easily get back 1 stud RB or WR and a solid backup QB for either one). I cannot say this enough: Having two great QBs is nice, but it won't help you at all come the playoffs (unless you start two).

    Grant in Carrollton (Georgia, I presume) has a quick-hitter: Pick two out of Chris Johnson, LJ and Thomas Jones at running back. I am leaning toward (Johnson & Johnson). Also, which two wide receivers in Week 11 -- Donald Driver, Lance Moore or Santonio Holmes?

    Answer: Grant, if you have the mentality of a riverboat gambler (like I do), I would seriously consider starting LJ -- who's back from suspension -- against the easy-cheesy Saints defense. But if you're more conservative by nature, I would totally understand tabbing Chris Johnson and T. Jones for the Week 11 start. Regarding your receivers ... are those really your top three guys? If so, I sincerely hope you're playing in a 14- or 16-team league -- otherwise, I strongly suggest putting on your Creative Trading hat and getting to work on upgrading that position.

    Travis in Kitchener, Ont. says: I'm lucky to have Frank Gore, Matt Forte and Marshawn Lynch in my backfield. Gore is a must-start, but I have found myself using Forte over Lynch more and more. Lynch has some favourable matchups coming up. Whom should I deal for a stud wide receiver?

    Answer: Obviously, you could get back 1 stud WR AND 1 stud QB for the red-hot Forte, via trade -- where Lynch would probably only yield 1 stud WR in return. However, Lynch has a pretty good sked the rest of the way ... which would motivate me to announce Forte's availability on your league message board. Simply put, if you can get a heaping-helping of stars (not spare parts) for Forte -- do the trade, start Lynch at RB2 and don't look back! If the offers are lukewarm ... then deal Lynch (for a high-quality WR or QB) and ride Gore and Forte to and through the fantasy playoffs!

    Alex in Boston has some big news, following my trade-deadline advice for getting Adrian Peterson: I landed Adrian Peterson!!! I am in a 12-team league and had a surplus of WRs, so I followed your advice and offered Braylon Edwards, Terrell Owens, and Fast Willie Parker for AP ... now, I'm stacked going into the playoffs!!! Thanks!!

    Answer: Alex, this must be the kind of pride/joy a parent or teacher feels -- when their son/daughter or student/pupil achieves something extraordinary after quality mentoring. Kudos to your B-O-L-D move and football godspeed, my friend!

    Five Players Who'll Disappoint -- Week 11

    1. Calvin Johnson (I'm having chest pains while writing this)
    2. Anquan Boldin (for once, he'll forget to pack his Superman cape for the roadie)
    3. LenDale White
    4. Brady Quinn (... and back to planet Earth we fall)
    5. Reggie Bush (temper your expectations -- let him ease back into action)

    Trivia Time

    Which QB was the first in NFL history to throw 30 TDs in one season?
    A) Dan Fouts
    B) John Hadl
    C) John Brodie
    D) Joe Namath
    E) Otto Graham
    F) John Unitas
    G) Sid Luckman
    H) Fran Tarkenton

    Five Unsung Players Who'll Score 1 TD

    1. WR Muhsin Muhammad (vs. Lions)
    2. WR Anthony Gonzalez (vs. Texans)
    3. TE Robert Royal (vs. Browns)
    4. RB Leonard Weaver (vs. Cardinals)
    5. RB Chester Taylor (vs. Bucs)

    10 Sell-High Candidates

    1. Mewelde Moore/Willie Parker (Pittsburgh travels to Baltimore and Tennessee in Weeks 15 and 16 -- enough said!)
    2. Eddie Royal (beware of the all-too-real Rookie Wall)
    3. Thomas Jones (find a desperate-for-RBs owner and get two solid WRs in return)
    4. DeAngelo Williams (there's a reason why Carolina moved mountains to draft Jonathan Stewart)
    5. Roy Williams (your last chance before Romo's return)
    6. Lance Moore (how about for Cincy RB Cedric Benson?)
    7. Todd Heap (for obvious reasons)
    8. Aaron Rodgers (IF you can get a stud RB in return)
    9. T.J. Houshmandzadeh (the Bengals are staring at a bunch of bad-weather games)
    10. Antonio Gates (he's a no-lose proposition this week: Either reap the benefits of a strong game vs. Pittsburgh ... or deal him for two stellar players)

    Trivia Answer

    The answer is F. Hall of Famer John Unitas threw 32 touchdowns in 1959 for the world champion Baltimore Colts, becoming the first signal-caller in NFL history to join the 30 Club. Interestingly enough, Unitas would toss 290 TDs but never surpass the 30-mark at any other point in his career.

    10 Buy-Low Candidates

    1. Joseph Addai (do whatever is humanly possible to corral him before Sunday)
    2. Jason Hill (Shaun Hill's favorite target, by far, in San Francisco)
    3. Ryan Grant (still has his share of haters, despite recent surge)
    4. Chad Pennington
    5. David Garrard (842 total yards, 4 TDs in his last four games)
    6. Tony Scheffler (I was stunned to see him free on waivers this week)
    7. Chester Taylor (I'm going to write his name here every week)
    8. Greg Jennings
    9. Greg Camarillo (a Wes Welker clone -- before it's not too late)
    10. Derrick Ward (one of the best RB handcuffs in the league)

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